Jon English was born in London in 1949 and emigrated to Australia with his family in 1961, he became the original front- man for the band Sebastian Hardie and secured one of the lead roles in the Australian cast version of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was rarely absent from Australian stage or television from the early 70s which included roles in the TV drama Against The Wind and the sitcom All Together Now, in later years he starred in popular Gilbert and Sullivan revivals and in a stage version of Dad’s Army.
He had several charting singles throughout the 70s and 80s, including Handbags and Gladrags (1973), Turn The Page (1974), Words Are Not Enough (1978), Six Ribbons (with Mario Millo, 1978), Behind Blue Eyes (1977), and Hot Town (1979); as well the albums Hollywood Seven (1976), Against The Wind (1979), English History (1979), Calm Before the Storm (1980) and Modern English (1984).
He hit the top 20 for the first time in 1975 with his cover of the Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band hit Turn the Page which had been lifted from English’s second album It’s All A Game, he recorded his third album Hollywood Seven in 1976, the title track was recorded at the Armstrong Studios (Melb) and produced by Rod Thomas and William Motzing, it was the second single lifted from the album.
Hollywood Seven was originally written by Gloria Sklerov (above) and Harry Lloyd for Terry Jacks who had just hit the charts with Seasons in the Sun, Sklerov recalls writing the song “At the time I was a staff writer for Garrett Music who had a sub-publishing arrangement with Polydor in Australia. They had asked me to write an urban story song and as I was on my way home on the freeway, I passed a motel called “Hollywood Eight” which intrigued me. I started to think about who might be checking in there. When I got together with Harry Lloyd, we discussed it and decided to change the name to “Hollywood Seven” because it “sang” better. We then plotted the story and it all came out to be like it was meant to. Terry Jacks passed on the song because of its dark themes, so it was sent out to sub-publishers for others to record. We were thrilled when we heard Jon’s version because they used some of the synth riffs we had used on the demo, and Jon’s vocals were great.
The song has real suspense and dramatic tension as the aspiring starlet moves into the motel and is befriended by the narrator of the song, “She came in one night from Omaha, worn out/ She never could sleep on trains, took the bus to Hollywood/ Lookin’ for a room in the pourin’ rain/ With hair so blonde and eyes so brown/ She thought she’d take this town and turn it upside down. But the young actress never realises her dreams of stardom, is forced to resort to prostitution to survive, the ballad dramatically plots the deadly path that starstruck hopefuls are sometimes forced to pursue in tinsel town, “So she started bringin’ strangers home/ Just tryin’ to find a way to pay the rent… I found her there one mornin’/ She didn’t co-ome for coffee when I called/ She’d gone and brought the wrong one home this time/ There were crazy lipstick marks all over the wall…”It was the biggest hit for English to that time, and charted #13 locally and was a surprise #18 hit in Sweden, Jon English sadly passed away in 2016.